David is seeking to be a pastor to scholars. Here are his own words:
The short answer is that I am doing what I can to help Christian scholars to integrate their faith with their scholarship. I am anInterVarsity Graduate & Faculty Ministries staff person serving the students and faculty of New York University. So while I may not be a scholar per se, I am a pastor for scholars — for graduate students, faculty, and others engaged in post-graduate education. My calling is to help scholars and aspiring scholars to live out their callings by inviting and encouraging them to allow their faith to enrich their scholarship and to allow their scholarship to inform their faith.David begins in part of one of his series speaking about his time at Westminster Theological Seminary when the controversy regarding Peter Enns was in full swing. His main goal is to speak to the issue of how fear can motivate theological students and even theologians. This fear can cause one to refuse to look at evidence in an open manner. Along the way he makes some comments that I took issue with in regards to those who practice apologetics. In particular he spoke of a division on the Westminster staff between those who practice biblical studies and those on the theological/apologetic faculty. His presentation left no illusions as to who, in his mind, were the open minded ones. He then went on to state:
Here are my comments and David's responses in italics.
Richard, thank you so much for commenting.
1. Let me clarify, I did not say, “All apologetics is just fear-driven theology.” I have a great deal of appreciation for apologetics when it is done well–when it is done without overreaching, special pleading and so on. In fact, I think that it is an integral part of the Christian scholar’s vocation to engage in apologetics where necessary. And I am more than happy to point to contemporary scholars who have taken up the task of Christian apologetics in very constructive ways: N.T. Wright, Alvin Plantinga, David Bentley Hart, Alister McGrath, John Polkinghorne, to name a few.
Nor did I necessarily mean those comments as a cheap dismissal of those with whom I disagree. What I am trying to do is speak to a pastoral concern, a spiritual condition–namely, fear that someone is going to take my faith or my assurance of salvation away from me–that keeps many people from engaging difficult data honestly. I think fear is a major road-block to a faithful integration of Christian faith and serious scholarship. I don’t know how many times I have seen people enabled to move forward in studying tough stuff by taking the time to step back and deal with their anxieties. I know I was only enabled to move out of a sort of knee-jerk defensiveness because I know I was only enabled to move out of a sort of knee-jerk defensiveness because I had teachers who showed me with their lives that Christian courage and intellectual honesty must go hand-in-hand.
2. That’s a really, really good question. Personally, I’m with N.T. Wright, Richard Hays and others in thinking that Crossan, Spong, & co. have not made their case for early Christians having taken resurrection as either a metaphor or a purely subjective experience. And I clearly do not think Spong or Crossan’s view of the resurrection is reconcilable with historic, mere Christianity.
As for people’s motives for arguing the case for the bodily resurrection of Jesus, fear may be part of it. Of course. We are complex creatures. “And,” as Paul says, “if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile….” If I’m honest, Crossan and Spong’s views give me the heebie-jeebies. I’ve staked an awful lot of my life on the empty tomb. So, clearly, I don’t approach this question without some admixture of motives.
Nevertheless, I’m trying to be as balanced as I can in dealing with the evidence. While Wright’s case has a few chinks in it (e.g., there were, it seems to me, probably some ancient Jews who did not conceive of ‘anastasis’ as being bodily), I still think that his argument and conclusion is far more compelling than Crossan, Spong, et al. But, of course, I have a vested interest in Wright being right on this point and I need to own that fact.
Does that help any?